Colchester: Town gypsy site is given the go-ahead

FURIOUS campaigners have expressed fears of a rise in crime and damage to the environment after councillors approved plans for a new site for gypsies and travellers near their homes.

Colchester Borough Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to build a site off Severalls Lane in north Colchester at a meeting last night.

The plans include 12 units in six semi-detached blocks arranged around a central play area and each with space for a caravan.

The application was originally approved five years ago, but had to be re-submitted to the council after the plans were not carried out.

Speaking against the proposals, Councillor Anne Turrell, who represents Mile End, said: “Since the application was first agreed, much of the council’s planning policy and the actual area around the proposed site has changed.

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“The situation in this part of Colchester has become much worse and we now do not have any space in either primary or secondary schools for the children who already live in the area.

“Severalls Lane is now a very busy road and could not cope with an increase in traffic.

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“A travellers’ site with the extra vehicles and their caravans will only add to the congestion on an already dangerous road.”

Roger Smith, who was representing a factory on Severalls Business Park, said: “We have already experienced an increase in the amount of break-ins on our site and people trying to remove scrap material and we believe these problems will get worse with a traveller site near by.”

Supporting the proposals, Jan Plummer from Tendring and Colchester Minority Ethnic Partnership, said: “The travelling community have the right to homes, education and health care just like everybody else.

“They are moved from pillar to post which causes a great deal of stress and depression.

“There is no evidence that there is a higher rate of criminal activity in areas with traveller sites. Having a permanent site is key to improving their life choices.”

Cllr Andrew Ellis, who is on the planning committee, said: “I know this is an emotive issue and the most comfortable thing to do would be to refuse the application and let it go to appeal.

“However, I don’t see that we have any new material since the last application that leads us to refuse this.

“Whichever location is chosen, there will be people in the community who get upset. I can understand and sympathise, but this will be a managed site and the residents will pay council tax and rent. If they breach the agreement, they will be evicted.

“Failure to provide sites will expose us to the risk of unauthorised sites being allowed to continue.”

The planning committee voted in favour of the application by 11 to one.

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